Jeans it's not one-size-fits-all when you are choosing the latest jeans style

Fashion Jeans Asia, Spotlight on Jeans Fashion

Other Clothing Styles that set the trend; Styles and Beauty

Other Styles and Beauty
When it comes to beauty and grooming, women go for broad strokes and radical change. In the name of transformation we seem all too willing to pluck a brow down to a feathery wisp or to splice streaky blonde highlights through a mousy mop. I can shift gears from pale pink lipstick to blood red in a heartbeat, but when it comes to clothes I stand accused of a curiously long-term conservatism, tremulous in the face of a fashion/craft accident.

The idea of slicing three inches off the hem of a favorite silk skirt or changing the buttons on a winter coat goes against the grain of decades of investment dressing. Imposing their will upon rebellious hips or the changing tide of fashion, expensive work clothes or rare vintage pieces have an arrogance that makes one bend to their will and not the reverse.

Cashmere SweaterSeriously sensible items, such as cashmere sweaters, little black dresses, pencil skirts and white dress shirts, are supposed to be elemental, flattering, reassuring and safe. We have been taught that these are the simple foundations of a working wardrobe. But what happens when basic clothes get boring? What happens when one wants to break out of the cage of classics and go on a surrealist fashion bender where cuffs or buttons or colors deliberately don’t match?

Perhaps it is a symptom of designer-label overkill or the faceless generic styling of chain store clothes (all those boat-neck knits and knee-length shifts), but DIY chic seems ready to resurface with a vengeance. Women must be yearning to bear their own signature – the mark of a distinct personality, after decades of coordinating black with white – to add some small touch that has not been stamped out by a distant factory in China.

On the cusp of another winter destined for dark serious colors and simple layers I developed a desperate urge for odd contrasts, peculiar details and highly personal whimsy. I am ready to revise my classic pieces and add small tasteful touches like monogrammed initials on a shirt pocket or a brighter silk lining on a coat and for the cheaper everyday pieces I have even wilder plans:

I want to cut all the fingers off my angora gloves and trim the holes with braid. I want to sew 60 tortoise shell buttons of different sizes to the lapels of a navy pinstripe jacket and stitch scarlet velvet elbow patches onto my black winter coat. I fancy a beret covered in organza butterflies, old medals and enameled cloisonné hearts. I want to wear clothes that invite study or amusement and don’t permit me to discreetly blend in. And above all, I don’t want to spend a dime on new clothes until I have thoroughly reinvigorated the old with damask pocket linings, contrasting collars, grosgrain ribbon trims and the odd ostrich plume.

When I loose my DIY nerve I’ll summon up a vision of Heide Middleton, one half of the Australian design team Sass and Bide, who wears Victorian silver medals strung through the loopholes of her jeans and makes blouses out of leopard-print silk scarves. Or I’ll channel classic late 1930s-era Elsa Schiaparelli who made buttons out of plastic insects and appliquéd modernist drawings onto sober business suit jackets.

Tailor or trim?
Changing a piece of clothing can be subtle or radical. What you add or subtract depends greatly on how treasured the item is and, more importantly, how much you wear it. A cardigan you love only needs fresh buttons to live again. A cardigan you feel iffy about can have new sleeves grafted on (either knitted or made of tweed for an eccentric English rose look), a ribbon trim added to the neckline and all along the front (any simple alteration center can do this for you, but make sure to choose the thread yourself!) or a simple appliqué of sequined stars (very Chanel) on one shoulder. I found thousands of tasteful and witty appliqué and patch items after some online searching and found that that it was the trims that suggested the fashion ideas and not the clothes themselves.

If you are new to customizing your clothes, start with very simple pieces with predominantly flat surfaces that are easy to trim or tailor (hemming takes great patience). Re-working a bias cut skirt or an overly fussy blouse is less straightforward than pinning silk violets to a velvet lapel.

Appliqué for dummies
Jeans back pockets are a good place to add color and charm to everyday style. A simple strip of navy blue sequins along the rim of a very dark denim jacket or jeans pocket looks chic. A cotton jacquard binding ribbon of pink flamingos on navy adds a preppy touch and for the more ambitious, a sprig of winter blossoms sprouting down one leg has romantic flare. There are enough embroidery Web site's who have generous information, supplies for and books about silk ribbon embroidery, a less fiddly branch of the needlework craft that has a very rich effect.
Following a pattern
I thought the craft section of the Vogue and McCall’s pattern books were for grannies until I took a recent look. Updated to meet the public lust for new handbags, hats and quirky accessories, McCall’s offer a pattern for miniature coats (pattern M4686), while Vogue patterns have designs for very pretty beribboned gloves (V7949) and a very cool, almost Tibetan-looking, messenger bag (V7862).

I quite like the idea of recycling dress fabric or shirt fabric that is no longer useful into a hand-sewn item or having your Hermes scarf match your Maltese. Silk scarves that look too conservative worn around the neck make excellent fabrics for smaller items or for the lining of a small bag and as the average designer handbag costs in excess of $500, making your own (however clumsily) suddenly appeals. I found moron-proof patterns for belts, capelets, corsets and circle skirts at a old style Vogue web site. (PS: The "very easy" Vogue patterns are the best place for craft virgins to gain their confidence.)

Seven uses for a silk rose
Millinery supplies and vintage silk flowers need to migrate away from your chapeaux to the rest of your wardrobe. I love a cluster of velvet leaves, lacquered wooden cherries, ribbons and roses tied to the handle of a perfectly plain black patent leather bag. Homemade corsages of mixed roses from the miniature to full-blown cabbage roses with velvet and organza petals look sweet on a corduroy jacket or worn at the front of a cable-knit sweater with a trailing neck tie of velvet ribbon.

The beauty of using floral trims is that it involves little more than a piece of craft wire and a few safety pins and the results are whimsical and flattering. Vintage flowers can be expensive (averaging about $5.00 apiece) and some might need steaming. I found unusual ones at a online shopping website and a massive range of new roses, violets, pansies and foliage at another shopping website . Clicking through their virtual garden of blooms, it occurred to me that bridesmaids could freshen up their deliberately plain pastels with silk floral trims on shoes, on the front of handbags and even as a single bracelet tied to one wrist with a silk organza bow.

Buckling up
In the 1900s and 1920s cloisonné enamel reached a renaissance of exquisite design. Rich colors and organic ornaments decorated tiny buckles for the waist and for shoes. Such tiny details seem lost today, especially as most hardware on shoes and bags is rarely bespoke. I found a cachet of incredible art nouveau buckles at a British vintage Web site and imagined them mounted on very broad velvet bands, worn over a simple long sleeved T-shirt with velvet jeans, worn on a thin leather belt with a vintage velvet dress or worn in summer with a denim belt and a Broderie Anglaise sundress. Marni started to trim their handbags with enamel badges a few seasons ago and the same could be done with buckles, enamel buttons and old military badges. Sometimes all an old bag or frock needs in order to sing again is a focal point.
Bead games
The beaded sweater is a common holiday standard. Most big stores offer a selection in cherry, white and black. Imagine taking one and adding more unusual constellations of large sequins, geometric glass beads and hand-painted beads. A few hours stitching in front of the TV and you have a conversation piece.

Beading, I imagine, becomes addictive as more and more surfaces in the wardrobe beg to shine. Start small with a sachet of simple glass beads and large matte sequins worked onto something non-precious like a denim skirt and then work towards a starburst on a capelet or an outline on a favorite T-shirt. For homemade necklaces I recommend the handmade, silver Balinese beads and the large, white Japanese beads transferred with hand-painted roses that can also be found there. I see these knotted on lengths of pink satin and tied around the wrists of chunky mittens or at the chin of woolly cap.

Feathered friends
Cher gave feathers a bad name, but the odd plume can add exotic charm. At the Tony Hill web site I found a candy-pink headdress made of rooster feathers that I plan to wear with jeans and a sequined blouse on New Year’s Eve (very Sass and Bide) and these sweet little clusters of golden pheasant feathers that are just the right trim for a green suede hat (a touch of Burberry there).

Hawaiian nobility believed that feathers possessed spiritual power and I tend to agree. I never saw a door slam in the face of a woman wearing an ostrich boa. Feathers have been abandoned since the ‘60s and ‘70s, scrapped for their dandyish image, but you can find smart ways to blend them in with costume brooches or silk flower corsages.

Collars and cuffs
In the 1930s, at the height of the Depression, a working girl had to refresh the one blouse and the one dress she owned with detachable collars and cuffs. In an age of disposable clothes such an idea seems winsome, but the collar, worn as a necklace with a strappy evening dress or contrasting angora sweater is returning.

Pearl-trimmed satin necklaces (often made in Hong Kong during the ‘50s) were worn with sweater sets. A more modern combination would be with a strapless dress or under a tuxedo jacket. I found a lace cotton collar in a vintage store and wear it with a black satin camisole and tuxedo pants; the delicacy of the lace against bare skin has a strange sex appeal. Collars, like buckles, are the orphans of vintage fashion and are often the cheapest items at yard sales or on eBay. Fur collars (made popular by Prada and Marc Jacobs this season) are very easy to find and look lovely on a simple pale cashmere coat or with a brocade jacket. Make yours custom with a Lurex ribbon bow or a brooch placed on one lapel. (PS: Faux fur is very easy to sew and the best way to wear leopard or zebra.)

The hand-sewn patch pocket is a bit Brady Bunch era. In the ‘70s, chunky stitch work and contrasting tartan plaid was all the rage. This winter the pocket is back, but it is more Björk than Jan Brady. Imagine two big knitted squares on a plain corduroy shift dress, some soft suede pockets with buttons along their edge, leather pockets (like British elbow patches) or a velvet blazer.

Because blazers are everywhere now, they are an excellent, inexpensive item to re-pocket, and, if the fabric is strong enough, there is nothing to stop you changing these pockets again next season. To get the proportion right, model your new pockets on the size and shape of the ones you have detached and be sure to lien the new ones. Go for contrasts of texture and pattern: floral against stripes, knit on velvet, fur on denim. For bargain blazers try Hennes & Mauritz and the good old regular sales rack at the Gap.
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